Belonging and Inclusivity Committee (BIC)

The University of Oklahoma serves to be a place of belonging and emotional growth for all students, faculty, staff, alumni, and patients. Each member of our campus communities is responsible for creating a culture that welcomes all, celebrates experiences, and ensures voices are valued.

Office of Community Outreach 

The Office of Community Outreach, Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost, was established to identify and fill existing gaps in outreach and recruitment of underrepresented communities into Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine, and Math (STEMM) careers in higher education. An innovative, multi-faceted, research-driven approach to STEMM education research, outreach, and community partnership is the foundation of this work. Additionally, the initiatives of this office are focused on strengthening the congruency between the University’s values of belonging and inclusivity and the campus culture to ensure the success of all students in the Health Sciences programs, especially those from historically excluded or underrepresented communities. Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to utilize the resources of this office as a flagship resource for needs relating to STEMM education, community outreach, and engagement with these communities.

Maria Fernanda Mendez, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Research and the Director of the Office of Community Outreach at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC). She earned her doctorate degree in Biochemistry from OUHSC, where her research focused on the metabolic link between diabetes, aging, and heart disease and her work has been published in top scientific journals. During her graduate career, Dr. Mendez was named a National Science Foundation Fellow, and she began the first science policy nonprofit organization in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Policy Engagement Network. Throughout her career, Dr. Mendez has demonstrated a deep passion and commitment to community outreach and science communication and has received multiple civic engagement grants to fund a variety of community outreach events in the OKC area. Dr. Mendez’s long-term career focus is on developing and implementing equitable and accessible pathways to higher education for all communities in Oklahoma. 



Maria F. Mendez, Ph.D.

Assistant ProfessorHudson College of Public Health
Community Outreach Program DirectorOffice of the Senior Vice President and Provost
K-20 STEM Outreach Coordinator, Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement (ODICE)
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
1105 N. Stonewall, Suite 221, Oklahoma City, OK 73117
Phone: 271-2332

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